Friday, 10 September 2010

Sally Mann & Wolfgang Tillmans

Beware, the second image in this post may make you feel uncomfortable.

Today I went to see two photographic exhibitions. I think I'm starting to give up pretending to care about other forms of art. Photographs are it, they're the one, they record every detail. They keep this moment and the nostalgic person in me treasures them. I think that part of having a bad memory is trying to make sure you never forget anything. And maybe part of feeling awkward in life is wanting to remember every single perfect moment.

I went to see an exhibition by Sally Mann (The photographer's gallery - Until September 19th), a photographer who I have liked since college, although i only recently discovered the techniques she uses and the methods possible to achieve so much clarity and detail.

I really like the way she captures moments of her children interacting with nature, doing what they wanted to do naturally, without having reached the moments in childhood where you begin to feel self conscious or worry about what you should or shouldn't do.

I loved this picture in particular, the way her daughter seems so oblivious to the camera and so peaceful in the open air. The focus is on the rocks, I somehow find photos more interesting when the focus is not in the obvious place.

I also feel that the fact that all of the photographs are in black and white makes them seem more timeless and altogether more about the moment, not the setting.

The exhibition was split into three parts; Family, Land and What Remains.

I found the 'What remains' part of the exhibition to be really unsettling. I read the warning before i entered the room, it was a theme i was very interested in. But still, seeing that level of detail in pictures of the human body decaying... for someone who fears death, I was a bit taken aback. And yet if the opportunity came up, I would take those photographs.

The photographs were of course both beautiful and timeless, the bodies looked as if they were trapped within different stages of decay. I sometimes think that humans are so afraid of death, we act like it's not going to happen, we say 'live for now' but are too afraid to actually do it. We bury our dead, we don't leave them to decay like this and therefore don't really see this, maybe this doesn't help us to accept that this is what will happen to us.

Next I went to see Wolfgang Tillmans (Serpentine Gallery - Until September 19th)

I wasn't sure what to expect for this one, and at first I wasn't impressed, all of the photographs were good, some were exceptional, but it seemed like there was no theme, they were like a mish-mash of snapshots. A picture of a runner next to a picture of boxes of eggs, an abstract photo next to a picture of the back of someones head.

There were a couple of things that ran through the exhibition though, a good eye for colour and what seemed like a fascination with light.

My favourite pictures were these:

They had that mystical feeling, that quality that you get from some art, the feeling when you don't know how it was done.

I went away thinking they looked like Cy Twomblys, if he were a photographer. I also thought they looked a bit like blood in water.

Altogether i thought both exhibitions were good and they gave me inspiration and ideas for my own artistic practice.

Edit: Decided this was too wordy so took out the press releases.

(All photographs are from the exhibition guides for the shows.)


  1. I went to see both of these when in London too Felt great to see two brilliant photography shows one after the other! "Exposed:voyerism, surveillance and the Camera" at the Tate modern is also brilliant if you get the chance

  2. Thanks! I have seen exposed but i feel like I didn't have long enough there and want to go back and see it again before it's over.

  3. Saw Tillman's work earlier today. Apart from being told I couldn't wear my rucksack on my back and they didn't have a cloakroom, I thought it was an interesting exhibition. I liked the experimentational pieces and the spectrum of work was inspiring.

  4. Charlotte! yes i really liked the experimental pieces too, i thought they were the best bit if the exhibition. which pieces were your favourite? i had a massive shoulder bag and they let me in so i guess it's all about perception. :P